Have I ever told you guys about my Devil Tooth?
(If you’re squeamish about dental stories, please read no further.)
It’s a tale of woe spanning almost a decade. When I was 17, fresh from a trip to the International Theatre Festival in Lincoln, Neb., I noticed an ache on a tooth I’d had filled. A quick jaunt to the dentist was sobering: I had to have a root canal on my very back tooth, up high on the left side of my mouth.
The root canal itself was pretty disturbing. In addition to getting the awesome shot in the roof of your mouth that accompanies having to be numbed for the procedure, I was still feeling things even when I shouldn’t. I cried and cried, tears creating sideways rivers down my face. Then I started to hyperventilate. Though the surgeons let me listen to the soundtrack for “Blood Brothers,” a play I was obsessed with after seeing it at the festival, even the melodic voices of the British actors couldn’t drown out my anguish.
So, you know. Then that was over. My tooth went back to doing whatever it is that it does — disintegrating and making my life hellish, apparently. Because we fast-forward six years later to me, sitting before my ridiculously good-looking dentist, Dr. Bob, as he tells me in his lovely voice that I’m going to have to get a gold crown on that baby.
I’ve talked about my crown before. It’s in the back of my mouth, sure, so no one can see it, but I know it’s there — and that makes me feel like Flavor Flav. After going through the uncomfortable crowning procedure, my coworkers took to calling me “Miss Rap Supreme.” And they even got me a nameplate for my desk.
I wish I could tell you that the story ends there — I got my crown and lived to eat corn on the cob, saltwater taffy and caramel popcorn once more. No food was too sticky for my liking; no candy too hard for me to chomp on.
But, of course, that’s not what happened.
In the past two years, my crown has fallen out six times — always when I’m eating, which is incredibly classy and not disgusting at all, having to root around for my missing tooth in the half-eaten food I’ve chewed. I’ve never swallowed it, thank goodness, because who knows how much dough it would have cost me to replace?
Before you all jump the, “Oh my God! Your dentist is the worst! I would never go there again!” gun, I genuinely believe this isn’t their fault. When they went to place my crown, Devil Tooth was so deteriorated that little remained for the crown to adhere to (and that’s a dangling participle, but I’m too tired to figure out how to reword it). The dentist said recently, “It’s like trying to keep a hat on in a hurricane.”
The last time it fell out? Right before my trip to New York a few weeks ago, and that’s when I’d had enough. Dr. Bob had told me before that if it kept coming off, they were going to have to do tooth lengthening surgery. (I’d link to that for informational purposes, but I wouldn’t recommend Googling it.) Devil Tooth got that procedure done on Wednesday morning, and if I thought the root canal was bad? Well, this was worse. Way worse. There were more tears — and lots of blood. And a cut lip, stitches and me desperately trying not to gag.
When it was all over, my surgeon — sure, we’ll call him a surgeon, I mean this was surgery — felt so sorry for me, with my cut mouth, chapped lips and mascara-covered face, he actually walked to a nearby Wendy’s to get me a Frosty, my most coveted of post-dental procedure nourishment. After I had three wisdom teeth pulled, I lived off Frosties for about four days.
I’ve never felt sorrier for myself than I did Wednesday, sitting alone in a cold dental office with my mouth full of gauze as I tried to feed myself a few pathetic spoonfuls of Frosty. I was still weeping and nodding mutely when my dental assistant came by to ask if I was all right. No one let me leave until I drank apple juice (to get my sugar back up?) and finished my Frosty. They didn’t want me to drive, and weren’t sure I should go back to work. Not because the procedure was so bad, necessarily, but because I took it so badly.
With pain medication prescription in hand, I stumbled my way back to my Toyota and headed back to the office — where I stayed long enough to finish editing a few pages for the paper and asked to go home. Once there, I curled up on the sofa and tried to force-feed myself some soup.
The best part of the day — aside from my sister going to Chick-Fil-A to get me a strawberry milkshake — was when Spencer showed up that evening. What pathetic and incapacitated girlfriend doesn’t want their boyfriend to show up and save the day?
And he did — with this:
And not a minute too soon, too. I was ill-prepared for how much that was going to suck, and when he arrived I just wanted a hug and someone else to listen to my tale of woe. I’m pretty sure my family, coworkers and Twitter followers didn’t want more gory details.
I go back to the dentist in two weeks for my “post-op,” where they examine to make sure my gums have healed and ensure the stitches in my mouth have dissolved. Then I get fitted for my new crown and have to go back again for it to be installed. (Placed? Glued in?) I’d have just had them pull the damn thing months (years?) ago, but my teeth would probably shift back from their $3,000 dental work. And that’s definitely no good.
Right now, I’m slowly starting to eat real food again — which is good, because woman cannot live on ice cream and milkshakes alone (who knew?). I’m even nursing a Diet Coke this morning, so starved am I for caffeine; just have to make sure I take everything by straw.
But my good friends Advil and Sweet Red Pepper Soup are here for me. As is my greatest ally, Good Dental Insurance.
Aetna must cry when they see my claims coming.